Tuesday, 10 January 2012

River Chub - Saturday Night & Sunday Morning

The annual Coventry/Warwickshire bloggers meet at the Whitefriars Inn in Coventry last Saturday night was a beery affair. They always are for me, and I seem to become unstable unseemly rapidly every time the event occurs. Perhaps it's the atmosphere or the company or the strong ales or all three but two hours in and I'm there in the back garden having a fag standing on legs that feel like a couple of flexing willow shoots rooted to the ground with the eight stone of my upper body (legs must be 3 stone, surely?) balancing precariously above them trying not to fall backwards into the piles of empty kegs behind.

Then again, my not touching a drop of drink in the weekdays preceding didn't help -- my blood/alcohol mixture rapidly shooting up from 0% to 90% saturation over the 5 hours spent in that ancient watering hole with the lads yapping away merrily, and very loudly, about the one subject that binds us together. I made numerous arrangements, fixtures, promises and signed dubious contracts too, no doubt, but promptly forget them all as soon as my head hit the pillow.

I woke next morning with a faint memory that I'd arranged to meet up with Danny and his mate Rob down at the Avon at Bretford at 8am. It was 9:30 by then, so with a thick head in need of hot sweet tea and an hour or two of washing up and general housework to straighten things out, I decided to leave for the river round noon and fish till dark. About 9:45 I faintly remembered Danny promising to pick me up, but no-one had knocked the door around eight o'clock, Judy assured me of that. They turned up at the door at ten...

My gear, in a state of unreadiness from the previous trip was chucked in the back of the car. The last trip had been after roach, therefore the tackle would be fine for a day's chubbing, I hoped. A loaf of bread was purchased from the handy local but completely unreliable micro 'super' market and of course, they had no Warburton's Blue...! Aah. For me, nothing else will do...no other bread comes close...only this bread seems purpose designed for roach fishing, as if a bread scientist/roach angler decided to perfect a loaf of bread for his own personal requirements and got the company to bite on it. It's the worst of all possible breads for sandwiches, but the greatest of all breads for flake fishing. Ergo, this must be true.

I ripped open the packet and had a squeeze. Too open in texture, not sticky enough, crumbly, too quick to take on water, not strong enough when fully saturated. A cast every three minutes, bite or no bite then. A troublesome day ahead...

As it happened the wires had got crossed in the pub and we were actually off to Stoneleigh to fish around there. The Avon looked great from the backseat and there was plenty of nicely coloured water coming through too, but then I was informed that it was actually the grown up daughter Sowe I was slavering over, not the mother river herself. I was utterly amazed. She's a big girl by the time she reaches Stoneleigh!

I spent the whole morning wondering about this extraordinary fact. How could a river that is so very small where it flows through my manor have grown ten times larger by the time it had reached Stoneleigh, just six or seven miles downstream? I imagine river systems to look like trees where all the various tributaries join up to flow along branches down to boughs and finally great trunks where they finally approach the sea. The great Severn estuary would be the trunk in this case, and the trunk of a great oak at that. The Avon itself would be a huge bough, the Sowe at Stoneleigh a large branch but the Sowe where I know it so well, just a branchlet with lots of little twigs springing from it.

Danny and Rob set up to fish in the weir pool and within minutes Danny had a three pound chub on the bank. It looked like it was going to a good day but two hours spent fishing above the weir in some very tasty looking water indeed, gave up just a few small taps on the tip. It looked the part but seemed devoid of small fish and the bites I did get were not from roach, the fish I was now fishing for in earnest having dropped my initial plan for chubbing away the hours.

I was right about the bread too. It was just as rubbishy as I had imagined it would be and couldn't be trusted to stay on the hook more than a few minutes, which is all you need when the roach are biting furiously, but here they weren't, so it was a royal pain in the neck.

When Danny had finished with his weirpool swim, which by the time I had returned had given up another chub, I dropped in for an hour hoping to find roach there. The rid top failed to bounce where I cast and within a short time it was clear that unlike every weirpool I have fished of late, this one did not contain a head of redfins. Nevertheless, sixth cast the rod tip dragged over slowly and the satisfying throbs of a good fish were transmitted up the taught line. I hoped it would be a roach, and it really felt most unlike a chub at twenty yards range, but it was too heavy up close and I just knew it was Old Rubber Lips. Nevertheless, it was my first fish of the new year and so its health was toasted and was released back into the shallow water at the tail of the pool a little way downstream.

No more bites came from the weir pool and after an hour it was clear that no more would, so I took a walk upstream. Here the river was very broad and shallow and despite winter being well advanced now, surprisingly weedy. The bottom could be seen right across the water for half a mile till eventually it narrowed and deepened enough to be the lair of wintering fish.

There really should have been a few roach in these areas, a couple of chub even, but I got no bites at all there. We'd all noticed a perplexing lack of small fish both upstream and down of the weir. Bread should have found them if they were there being the sort of bait that gets instant register of present company even if they are not big enough to eat it whole. Unfortunately, there were none at all, it seemed.

So, a little disappointing that not enough fish to warrant a second return were found excepting those in the weirpool. Might be worth a second look in summertime when the fish will be clearly visible but I have a feeling that this stretch of the Sowe will not contain what I am after, and that would be roach of an interesting size.


  1. I used to fish the Sowe and Avon regularly at Stoneleigh and it always fished better with colour in it and extra water on. I have to say though I never caught anything besides chub . In fact my pb of 4lb 15oz 8 drams !!! came from the Avon up there on a prawn.

    I was lead to believe that fishing was a complete no no on there now . If there is a club running it again I'd love to join.

    All the best


  2. Hi Jeff

    Having fished that area of the Sowe I can confirm that the pool itself and the runs below it (in the summer) are the only places I have caught, Chub, Dace & Trout but again no Roach. I do think there is a Pike in the pool as it attacked my smart cast when I explored with it........

  3. If you were that far gone. Do you recall a pike fishing trip arranged for this saturday ?

  4. Yes, Martin, I do remember that very clearly as a discussion but not as firm arrangement with a date! Oh dear, what have I done now...?

  5. Have you tried Warburtons Soft Farmhouse White? Best bread I've tried.

    Love the blog.


  6. could you tell me who owns this particular stretch of the sowe looks interesting,really enjoy the blog, keep it up guys

  7. I always use Warburtons blue. Never fails me but not tried the soft farmhouse yet...

    Scott, I haven't a clue! Think it's the town waters of Stoneleigh

  8. Was the Stoneleigh and bagington angling club but think its the n.a.c now I fish there a lot.